Voices: Chips Quinn Scholars

The Chips Quinn Scholars program began in 1991 and has 1,397 scholars and alumni. The quotes below represent what just a few scholars have said about CQS program co-founder John C. Quinn over the years. The comments came during the orientation and training sessions conducted for each CQS class, or were made during the program’s 20th anniversary in 2011.

“John and his wife Loie are just really good people. I don’t want to say it’s rare, because there are a lot of good people out there. But they’re a different breed. You can feel their compassion, the love they have for journalism, the love they have for people. And John, of course, knows about how important journalism is. So I would say to him, Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” –Richard Koonce (CQS Summer 1991)

“I owe a great deal of gratitude to John and Lois Quinn for making it possible for kids like me from historically black colleges and universities to have a world-class experience in journalism, and for welcoming all Chipsters into their family.” –Vickie Jones (CQS Summer 1993)

“I will never forget the first words out of the publisher’s mouth during my first job interview after graduating from college: ‘John Quinn? Oh, so you’re coming out with the heavyweights, huh?’ I had put Quinn’s name on my resume as a reference, as he required all scholars to do at the time. The publisher’s reaction proved to me that I was different from other candidates. I was prepared, ready. That’s when I knew what the CQS program was all about. That’s also the moment I knew that I, too, had to be a ‘heavyweight.’ Not in the industry or even the boardroom, but in some small way, to some young journalist, some aspiring writer, blogger, videographer.” –Craig Johnson (CQS Summer 1994)

“The following words from John Quinn have resounded in my head throughout the years: ‘never give up’ and ‘get it write’ – I mean, ‘get it right.’” –Frank Ochoa-Gonzales (CQS Summer 1995)

“When I was unsure of my journalism career path, John Quinn suggested I try the graphic arts path. During my second tour in a newsroom, I worked extremely hard so that he would be proud, and it was a wonderful experience. And, demonstrating the special touch that is characteristic of him, he had an inspirational note waiting for me when I arrived at the paper.” –Shanel Hicks (CQS Summer 1996)

“I often remember listening to John and Loie Quinn tell the story of their son Chips at orientation and thinking how admirable it was that they were so passionate about the cause of diversity. Their enthusiasm stuck with me, especially during those times when I felt like an outcast in the newsroom (and) when I was surrounded by people who didn’t look or think like me. I remembered why I was there, and why it was important for me to be there. I saw things in a way the others didn’t.” –Leslie Fulbright (CQS Fall 1998)

“I remember my first emotion when I walked into Chips Quinn orientation: stunned. I was used to being the only minority of my kind in my college journalism classes. In the orientation room, I saw table after table of talented minority journalists who were eager to learn, and showcase their skills and love for journalism. I thought about how one man was responsible for setting up this event, CQS program co-founder John Quinn – and his wife Loie. It showed what can happen when people decide to make a difference. It’s a moment I have never forgotten.” –Ernst Lamothe Jr. (CQS Summer 2000)

“John Seigenthaler (founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville) and John Quinn are journalism legends and history legends. However, they are still grounded. They do not take anything for granted. These men have taught us that the best journalists are caring and compassionate. They have cared enough about us to give us these opportunities and invest their time and resources in us. It’s a great inspiration and blessing to know that someone believes in me that way.” –Alejandra Matos (CQS Spring 2010)

“The most important thing I took away from John Quinn’s stories is that you can go as far as you can imagine. Although he often jokes about the integration of Internet media into our industry, he understands that imagination and drive will lead to big things. His emphasis on caring for others and caring about your job also really hit home. While we are journalists, we are people, too.” –Lindsay Machak (CQS Spring 2011)

“John Quinn is an inspirational person, and if I can be half the person and journalist he is, I will live a happy life. What he’s done in this industry, including starting the Chips Quinn Scholars program, is amazing. He is giving people opportunities to be great journalists. I hope he’s proud of his Chipsters. If I’m having a horrible day at my internship paper, I will think of John. I will remember the things he told me. I will give myself a hug and try not to take myself too seriously.” –My Nguyen (CQS Spring 2011)

“As John Quinn shared memories about his son Chips and his vision and the things he wanted to accomplish, this quote of John’s stood out the most: ‘We work hard to open the doors, and you have to walk through.’ We students can do this by performing at the high level of professionalism expected of a Chips Quinn Scholar.’ –Kenneth Hawkins (CQS Summer 2011)

“Whenever John Quinn gets up to speak, I shut out everybody else and listen to his low voice. He’s got quite a dry sense of humor. I read Gay Talese’s “The Kingdom and the Power” last summer, and the newsroom he describes became my idealized version of a newsroom. A bunch of really tough, really progressive-thinking folks making tough decisions on how to best inform the public. Mr. Quinn belongs to that era of journalism. I’m very thankful for the opportunity he has given me and the thousand other students he helped before me.” –James Barragan (CQS Summer 2013)

“Orientation gave us a gold ticket to an excellent performance as an intern at our host newspapers. …The ‘double dosage of Johns’ (John Quinn, and John Seigenthaler) will keep us focused on our mission to adhere to our ethical principals as journalists and remember our responsibility to produce news that will address the needs of our communities.” –Kristopher Rivera (CQS Summer 2014)

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